HC Deb 13 May 1948 vol 450 cc2255-6
7. Sir Wavell Wakefield

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps have been taken to maintain the keenness and interest in the future of the Civil Defence organisations by those who gave such efficient service during the war years; and with what results.

Mr. Ede

My Department has supplied material for talks and discussions to local authorities and to the 700 Civil Defence Clubs and Associations which now exist, and lectures, usually illustrated by films, have been given by Home Office staff and Civil Defence officers. These measures have undoubtedly had the effect of stimulating and maintaining. a lively interest in Civil Defence problems. I am considering whether any further steps are practicable to turn this interest to practical account and I shall be very willing to consider any suggestions which may be sent to me by these organisations for the spread of interest in their work.

Sir W. Wakefield

Is the Home Secretary aware that there is a real desire not only among these people, but among many others to hold themselves in readiness to give service to their country in whatever way may be required, and that anything that he can do to encourage this will receive very good support?

Mr. Ede

I am very well aware of the interest which these people have in this matter, and I am grateful to them for it. I would welcome some indications from them on occasion of what could be done by my staff to assist them in spreading interest in this matter among their friends and neighbours.

Mr. Frank Byers

Does not one of the difficulties arise because the local authorities are not yet clear who is to be responsible for Civil Defence in various regions? Can he say when decisions are to be taken in this matter?

Mr. Ede

That matter is under very active consideration. I hope to be able to make a definite announcement shortly, but I do not think that it should delay people who are interested in this kind of thing from joining these associations and participating in their activities.

General Sir George Jeffreys

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether one of the difficulties regarding meetings of these associations is that there is no provision for payment of reasonable expenses when people have to come from considerable distances to attend? Might not a certain amount of assistance be given in that way?

Mr. Ede

That is a matter which I am willing to consider.

Major Legge-Bourke

Will the Home Secretary give an assurance that the activities which he described in his original reply have not been confined only to the Metropolitan area or the areas of the big cities, and can he assure the House that other urban districts have also been considered?

Mr. Ede

Other urban districts have been considered. There are 700 of these clubs and associations, and there are not 700 large cities in the country. I am very anxious to assist the commencement of this work in small urban districts and even in rural areas.